Volkswagen’s newest SUV is here to strike a balance between German engineering and style
My first rendezvous with the T-Roc was in Amsterdam. It was early morning and I was slightly groggy, having just gotten off my long overnight flights from India. But as I exited the gates of the Schiphol airport, the gust of cold air accompanied by the sight of the T-Roc woke me up properly. It looked compact but chic and had an air of stylishness about it unlike most Volkswagens. Driving the T-Roc amid Amsterdam’s zillion cyclists that day, followed by a sortie on the autobahn was engaging to say the least, given its polished German manners and of course the turbocharged petrol engine and DSG gearbox. And that’s besides the fact that with its design and bright golden yellow hue, the T-Roc seemed to match the city’s vibrant aura well.
The T-Roc has landed at our shores now and interestingly, Volkswagen has chosen the CBU route to launch it. This means we get the very T-Roc that’s built and sold in Europe and other markets internationally. First things first, it boasts a dash of classiness that makes it stand out as compared to any other Volkswagen product in India. The relatively curvier and sleeker design, bright colours and overall premium feel make it look very appealing. Some say the T-Roc isn’t as tall as an SUV ought to be and looks a little too compact, but not everyone wants a tall, muscular SUV, no? In my books the T-Roc looks particularly arresting from the rear end, as the design of the tail lamps, the sharp crease connecting them and the T-Roc name under the Volkswagen logo make it look eye-catching.
Of course, the ‘Kurkuma Yellow’ colour of our test car helped it stand out on the road too! The T-Roc offers the same vibrant and premium feel inside as well, be it the shape of the door handles or the dashboard design – it’s all styled in a very un-Volkswagen like manner. The German car maker is typically known for its clinical designs but the T-Roc is meant to be a more premium and youthful product for the upwardly mobile SUV buyer looking for a stylish set of wheels. This makes the T-Roc a bit of a unique proposition in its segment and Volkswagen has also equipped it well. The seats are covered in leather and the instrument cluster is a large digital display – a first for any Volkswagen in India – that offers lots of information, while the touchscreen infotainment system is a crisp-looking unit and is also up-to-date in terms of connectivity options.
While overall touch and feel of the cabin is top notch and premium, the use of soft touch plastics on the dashboard would have accentuated that feel further. Volkswagen has also skipped colour-matching plastic panels inside to the car’s exterior colour here, something you will see on the European version. I wish that was an option at least! The seats are comfortable and I also like the seating position and adjustability offered for the driver’s seat. Electric adjustment for the driver’s seat would have been a nice addition in keeping with the SUV’s premium positioning too, in my opinion. What I really liked inside the cabin was how everything is driver-focused – be it the sporty, flat-bottomed steering wheel or the controls. Then there’s the panoramic sunroof that is a lovely thing to have in the monsoons – the droplets of rain on the glass pane above your head look just so good!
The T-Roc is powered by Volkswagen’s 1.5-litre, four-cylinder TSI motor for the Indian market, which offers 150PS and 250Nm and sends that power to the front wheels via a seven-speed DSG or direct-shift, dual clutch automatic gearbox, one among the German car maker’s finest transmissions. Performance is brisk for an SUV, while refinement is as good as it gets and the 1.5 TSI EVO clearly reeks of the typical finesse you’d associate with a German turbocharged petrol motor! The T-Roc also gets paddle shifters that make it all the more engaging to drive. The engine is also equipped with Volkswagen’s ACT or Active Cylinder Technology, which deactivates two of the four cylinders when you’re driving easily.
Besides driving the T-Roc in Pune city, where the car did get quite a lot of attention, I also took it out for a morning drive to the nearby hills. Most of Pune district turns to a lovely shade of green by August each year thanks to the monsoons and you get some stunning vistas, less than 50km out of the city, whichever direction you choose to head out in. The T-Roc proved to be a great weekend companion on my drive around the twisties, besides making for great ease of driving in the city with its compactness and easy maneuverability. In fact the T-Roc’s dynamics will ease lesser experienced drivers into having fun behind the wheel, while letting the more experienced lot drive it with gusto. There’s a reasonably spacious boot to throw your luggage in and head out for a weekend trip should you choose to. And after driving it around for a couple of days, I think that’s something I want to do in the T-Roc once the pandemic subsides.
Price: Rs 19.99 lakh onwards (ex-showroom)
Engine: 1,498cc, inline 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Transmission: Seven speed DSG